Skip to comments.African Slaves Brought First Rice Riches to U.S.?
Posted on 12/20/2007 7:49:21 PM PST by Lorianne
A rice variety that made many a colonial plantation owner rich was brought to the United States from West Africa, according to preliminary genetic research.
The finding suggests that African slaves are responsible for nearly every facet of one of the first rice varieties grown in the U.S., as well as one of the most lucrative crops in early American history.
"Not only did they bring the technology, the how-to, they brought the cultivar," said Anna McClung, a genetic researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Stuttgart, Arkansas.
West Africans had been growing varieties of rice for several thousand years before the start of the slave trade with the colonies, McClung said.
Ship masters wanting to deliver healthy slaves to the U.S. bought rice in Africa as provisions for the voyage, according to experts. Once in the colonies, slaves grew leftover rice in their own garden plots for food.
In 1685 plantation owners in the Carolinas started experimenting with a rice variety that produced high yields and was easy to cook, McClung said.
The slaves used their rice-growing know-how to convert the swampy Carolina lowlands to thriving rice plantations replete with canals, dikes, and levies, which facilitated periodic flooding of the fields, McClung noted.
The so-called Carolina Gold variety quickly became a high value export crop, primarily to Europe.
"That was really fundamental for the economic growth of this country, and that hinged upon this one variety," McClung said. "So there's been this question of where did that one variety come from?"
(Excerpt) Read more at news.nationalgeographic.com ...
Interesting PC twist. The slaves didn’t bring it, the African slave traders sold it to the European slave traders along with the slaves.
Everyone knows America was built on rice!
(and on the back of Uncle Ben)
So does Uncle Ben have to start paying reparations?
Everyone knows America was built on rice!
(and on the back of Uncle Ben)
The San Francisco Treat?
It’s Pelosi’s Fault!
Dat beotch stole my tasty treat!
Things that make you go Hmmmmm?
One would think that any rations slaves managed to smuggled aboard the blackbirders’ ships would be consumed or stolen by the other slaves.
that made many a colonial plantation owner rich was brought to the United States . . .
The finding suggests that African slaves are responsible for nearly every facet of one of the first rice varieties grown in the U.S. . . .
for several thousand years before the start of the slave trade with the colonies . . .
Ship masters wanting to deliver healthy slaves to the U.S. bought rice in Africa as provisions for the voyage . . .
In 1685 plantation owners in the Carolinas . . .
That was really fundamental for the economic growth of this country . . .
Anybody else notice how the National Geographic author is seemingly confused about the difference between the colonies and the United States? This article conflates the two. I'll leave it up to the reader to decide for themselves whether that anachronism was intentionally slipped into the narrative multiple times in an effort to make a political statement, or whether it was simply done out of ignorance.
For reference, note that the only date quoted in the article excerpt is the year 1685, yet the United States was not founded until the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, which was more than ninety years later. So it would appear that many or most of the references to the "the U.S." or "the United States" are simply false.
Oh, and notice if you read all the way to the end of the article you find out that all of this is speculative, and that in fact it could be incorrect, and the actual source of the Carolina Gold could have been from somewhere other than West Africa and thus might have had no direct connection with the slave trade or with foodstuffs purchased by slave-trading ship captains in West Africa (although the role of slaves in cultivating rice in the Western Hemisphere is pretty well established).
The so-called Carolina Gold variety quickly became a high value export crop, primarily to Europe
Why did Europe not buy the rice directly from Africa? Shipping costs would be much less.
And yes, I too, have noticed the confusion regarding the United States and British Crown Colonies. This became apparent to me when the State of Massachusetts felt compelled to apologise for the Salem Witch Trials - crimes which occured in a British Crown Colony, NOT the United States.
I took a tour of a plantation this past fall when I was in SC for a visit and they told us of the history of rice and it’s connection to slavery.
Apparently, rice was a staple in Africa and a sign of status. The Africans who were captured and sold as slaves, hid the rice in their hair and grew it when they arrived. They approached the slave owners about growing their own food, which the slave owners certainly didn’t object to, and using their knowledge of rice cultivation, built some impressive rice paddies.
It makes for a compelling story, but I wonder whether there is actually documentary evidence to back it up, or whether it is an apocryphal tale...
that was very good..lol
that seems like Middle Passage myth
what would be more plausible and give blacks something to be proud of and whites something to feel good guilt about would be to say that the “slaves inherent knowledge of rice cultivation was a boon for the Americas and that we still benefit from that today”
but then someone would say.....that it wasn’t good because then we needed more slaves thus feeding the slave trade and worst now most rice is grown in Arkansas by slave descendent’s ...coincidentally the same state where Anti-Christ number one Bill Clinton came from and now is also home to Anti-Christ number two....Mike Huckabee
on second thought...maybe we should stick with your story..lol
If Libs have their way.
We went on a tour of the plantation and took a buggy ride past the old rice paddies. Very impressive feats of engineering as far as leveling the land and irrigation.
The story was that rice was so much a part of their culture and livelihood and that status of it was what motivated them to smuggle the rice.
It was apparently the beginning of the rice industry. Clearly, the slaves had the knowhow, and the rice had to come from somewhere. Maybe some SC FReepers know more.
The thing that gives it some plausibility, was that the slaves supposedly grew it to feed themselves and after that the slave owners realized what a market they had there. The original intent was not that the slaves grew it for the market, but that it was more of a serendipity kind of thing for the slave owners.
South Carolina public television is currently filming a documentary about this subject. It will air sometime next spring and will be titled “The Golden Age of Rice: The Story of Carolina Gold Rice.” Anna McClung who is quoted in this article will be interviewed for the film and will also narrate part of it.
Of course it's true. You've heard of 'lice', haven't you? Africans invented that too.
Once in the colonies, slaves grew leftover rice in their own garden plots for food.
This I am impressed with. I've tried for years. Go to the store, buy some Uncle Bens, pour it in the garden next to the corn, water, sun, blah, blah, and...nothing. Maybe I should go to West Africa and hire one of these guys.
Rice was a common crop in parts of Europe by medieval times. It’s cultivation did not originate in Africa but most likely in India. The ship from Madagascar in 1685 brought rice as a part of it’s cargo and the captain of the ship gave rice as payment for the repairs done to his ship. In all likelyhood other variations of rice were also brought by other settlers during the 200 year period of settlement that preceded this event.